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Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

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Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution Cover

ISBN13: 9780805079494
ISBN10: 0805079491
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this dazzling new vision of the ever-fascinating queen, a dynamic young historian reveals how Marie Antoinettes bold attempts to reshape royal fashion changed the future of France

Marie Antoinette has always stood as an icon of supreme style, but surprisingly none of her biographers have paid sustained attention to her clothes. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber shows how Marie Antoinette developed her reputation for fashionable excess, and explains through lively, illuminating new research the political controversies that her clothing provoked. Weber surveys Marie Antoinettes “Revolution in Dress,” covering each phase of the queens tumultuous life, beginning with the young girl, struggling to survive Versailless rigid traditions of royal glamour (twelve-foot-wide hoopskirts, whalebone corsets that crushed her organs). As queen, Marie Antoinette used stunning, often extreme costumes to project an image of power and wage war against her enemies. Gradually, however, she began to lose her hold on the French when she started to adopt “unqueenly” outfits (the provocative chemise) that, surprisingly, would be adopted by the revolutionaries who executed her.

Webers queen is sublime, human, and surprising: a sometimes courageous monarch unwilling to allow others to determine her destiny. The paradox of her tragic story, according to Weber, is that fashion—the vehicle she used to secure her triumphs—was also the means of her undoing. Webers book is not only a stylish and original addition to Marie Antoinette scholarship, but also a moving, revelatory reinterpretation of one of historys most controversial figures.

Caroline Weber is associate professor of French at Barnard College, Columbia University. A specialist of eighteenth-century French literature, culture, and history, she has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Her other publications include Terror and Its Discontents, a well-received and widely taught book on the Reign of Terror; an edited volume of Yale French Studies; and numerous academic articles. She lives with her husband in New York City.

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

A Washington Post Best History Book of the Year

 

Like Princess Diana and Jacqueline Onassis, Marie Antoinette was an icon of style, a fashion muse, a woman who used clothing to command attention. But few biographers have paid close attention to her wardrobe's impact. Now, in her sumptuously detailed Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber tells the story of Marie Antoinette's "Revolution in Dress," which helped make (and unmake) her reputation, altering the very course of French history.

 
When the fourteen-year-old Austrian arch-duchess first arrived at the Palace of Versailles to become dauphine, rigid tradition governed what she wore, when she wore it, even who put it on her person. Her required wardrobe included twelve-foot-wide hoopskirts and organ-crushing whalebone corsets. But when she became queen, Marie Antoinette, seeking to establish her own royal style as a way to seduce the public (and distract attention from her failure to conceive).
 
From her male riding gear to her white furs and diamonds, her monumental pouf hairstyles (re-creating verdant gardens or battleships), and her intricate disguises for decadent balls, Marie Antoinette's creations announced her "Minister of Fashion" Rose Bertin (the designer whose Le Grand Mogol boutique was a mecca for the well-heeled), she began a fashion frenzy. "Leaking" news of her clothing preferences to newspapers, she colluded in the creation of her own finely tuned image. Traveling regularly to Paris, she caused sensations among city dwellers unaccustomed to seeing kings' wives dressed untraditionally. She became "the cynosure of every eye," holding women—from princesses to servant girls—enthralled.
 
But she would go too far. Inspired by Rousseau and her time in the parklike setting of the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette began to sport provocative, "radical chic" chemises and other unqueenly outfits that fueled rumors and incited scandals that helped fuel the Revolution and bring down the monarchy. Surprisingly, many of these styles would later be adopted by the same revolutionaries who put the Queen to death.
"Caroline Weber weaves her portrait of Marie Antoinette—and pre-revolutionary France—from the very fabric of the Queen's wardrobe. Here is fashion at its most cut-throat and history at its most sumptuous; an original, arresting tale, of high stakes all around."—Stacy Schiff, author of A Great Improvisation
"In Queen of Fashion, her suspenseful, remarkably well-documented and surprisingly humanizing account of the role style played in Marie Antoinette's fate and legacy, Caroline Weber, who teaches at Barnard College and is an expert on the Terror, adds texture, shimmer and depth to an icon most of us thought we knew already."—Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
 
"Caroline Weber's Queen of Fashion examines Marie Antoinette from an arresting angle—her theatrical persona as a fashion innovator. Forced to jockey for position, French courtiers were slaves of fashion, while queens tended to be more modest and reserved. Fashion flash was practiced instead by the kings' semi-official mistresses—a role that Weber demonstrates was borrowed by Marie Antoinette (whose husband had no mistress) and that eventually compromised her reputation and made it easier for scurrilous pamphleteers to caricature her as a whore."—Camille Paglia, The Chronicle of Higher Education

 

"It is always gratifying to discover how much a fashion statement can mean, and Weber's account of the transition from ancient regime to the Republic from a sartorial point of view is a perceptive work of scholarship that helps to explain the transcendent importance of fashion to French culture."—The New Yorker

 
"Entertaining and thought-provoking . . . Caroline Weber's book is absorbing, fascinating, a wonderful display of grace and expertise, full of telling details."—Hilary Mantel, The New York Review of Books
 
"As Caroline Weber demonstrates with dazzling detail in Queen of Fashion, when it came to Marie's wardrobe, more was better and too much was never enough: Her pearl bracelets, jewel-flecked gowns, ruffled skirts, and fur-trimmed headdresses launched a thousand imitators hoping to borrow even a little of her awe-inspiring glamour. Weber's book is an ode to the art of dressmaking at its most fantastic, a heady, gorgeous glimpse into the past . . . Queen of Fashion is as richly imagined as the gowns it describes . . . It's nothing short of stunning"—The Washington Post
 
"A delightful revelation. The delight is due to author Caroline Weber's intelligence and insight—as if a keen scholar was writing for Vanity Fair. The revelation results from the way the writer imbues a much-reviled and seemingly well-known figure with great empathy . . . Weber dishes up titillating intricacies of French court life (the palace at Versailles was dirty; many nobles had poor hygiene) . . . Readers who fancy excellent writing, power plays and prodigious research will enjoy Queen of Fashion. In humanizing Marie Antoinette, Weber recasts history—a splendid accomplishment. This trek in Marie Antoinette's bejeweled slippers turns the callous and frivolous 'cake queen' into a figure of sympathy."—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
"A serious work of social history. Marie Antoinette may not have invented the politics of costume, but she understood, although she often miscalculated, the importance of manipulating her public image."—The Boston Globe
 
"A work of careful scholarship . . . In many ways, though, Weber improves upon [Antonia] Fraser . . . Queen of Fashion tells a better story . . . you keep turning the pages even when you know how it ends."—Chicago Sun-Times
 
"A brilliant of the commonly held view of Marie Antoinette. By looking, in fascinating detail, at what she wore—at the very fripperies that caused so many of her critics to underestimate her political aims and importance—Weber reassesses her historical role and creates a mesmerizing portrait of the doomed queen."—The London Telegraph
 
"Weber is a serious historian, and nearly every sentence of her account is footnoted to one of her many sources, some not tapped before . . . but what's most welcome is her use of her own feeling for clothes and their importance. This popular subject has been trivially belabored by numerous cultural-studies academics with no personal stake in dress history or in actual garments. It's refreshing to find solid interpretive work and historical responsibility in an impassioned book on clothing's power over perception and self-perception."—Slate
 
"Caroline Weber weaves her portrait of Marie Antoinette—and pre-revolutionary France—from the very fabric of the Queen's wardrobe. Here is fashion at its most cut-throat and history at its most sumptuous; an original, arresting tale, of high stakes all around."—Stacy Schiff, author of A Great Improvisation
 
"Queen of Fashion is a marvelous read.  Fascinating in its rich detail yet also deeply moving, no other book about the tragic Marie Antoinette so captures her fatal flair for fashion. Caroline Weber not only combines fresh insights with new material, she also has a dazzling style of writing that most authors would kill for.  This is a book to be read and reread and then passed among friends."—Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana 
 
"Caroline Weber deftly details the volatile interplay of fashion and politics during Marie Antoinettes reign as a sartorial trend-setter. A witty account of fashion as dynastic high stakes, this rereading of the lead-up to the French Revolution sees the queens vestimentary caprices as politically motivated, an ill-fated approach to her personal disenfranchisement. An original look at a turning point in European history."—Carolyn Burke, author of Lee Miller: A Life
 
"As Caroline Weber demonstrates with dazzling detail in Queen of Fashion, when it came to Marie's wardrobe, more was better and too much was never enough: Weber's book is an ode to the art of dressmaking at its most fantastic, a heady, gorgeous glimpse into the past . . . Queen of Fashion is as richly imagined as the gowns it describes . . .   As sociology . . . it's nothing short of stunning."—Suzanne DAmato, Orlando Sentinel
 
"Caroline Weber's historical imagination and zest for fashion make for a sparkling take on the tragic, trendy Queen. Scholarly and entertaining—a brilliant, wholly original book."—Kennedy Fraser, author of The Power of Style
 
"[Caroline Weber's] comprehensive, entertaining latest work suggests that she has studied just about every other important history—academic and popular—covering the reign of Louis XVI and his controversial consort . . . [T]he fashion segments are fun to read and researched with consummate attention to detail, as 80 pages of endnotes certify. When the royal couple is finally imprisoned, the author does a splendid job of explaining how their political fall was mirrored in their dress. Her account of the queen's final appearance—all in glorious white—on the ride to the guillotine carries enormous poignancy."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"Tales of intrigue dot every page . . . as do the foibles of commoners and royalty. Bold and engaging"—Booklist
 
"As this prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study of the doomed royal's fashion statements demonstrates, her masculine equestrian garb, ostentatious costumes for masked balls, high Parisian hairdos and faux country-girl gear were bold bids for political power and personal freedom in a suffocating realm where a queen was merely a breeder and living symbol of her spouse's glorious reign . . . The generously illustrated history by Weber posits that the queen's fashion obsession wasn't about narcissism and frivolity but self-assertion; even at the guillotine she controlled her image with a radiantly white ensemble."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Review:

"At Versailles, where even the daily rouging of the Dauphin's cheeks was a highly ritualized and politicized affair, and where obedience to protocol could brook no infringement, 14-year-old Marie Antoinette's refusal to wear her whalebone corset threatened the Bourbon-Hapsburg alliance. As this prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study (perfectly timed for the fall release of Sofia Coppola's movie) of the doomed royal's fashion statements demonstrates, her masculine equestrian garb, ostentatious costumes for masked balls, high Parisian hairdos and faux country-girl gear were bold bids for political power and personal freedom in a suffocating realm where a queen was merely a breeder and living symbol of her spouse's glorious reign. An iconic trendsetter whose styles were copied by prostitutes and aristocrats alike, Marie Antoinette was blamed for France's moral decay and financial bankruptcy, the blurring of class lines and callousness toward the poor. When many of her aristocratic contemporaries donned tricolor ribbons and jewelry set with stones from the Bastille's demolished walls as pro-revolutionary emblems, a defiant Marie Antoinette reintroduced her most opulent jewels into her daily costume. The generously illustrated history by Weber (Terror and Its Discontents) posits that the queen's fashion obsession wasn't about narcissism and frivolity but self-assertion; even at the guillotine she controlled her image with a radiantly white ensemble." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

A ground-breaking retelling and reclaiming of Anne Boleynand#8217;s life and legacy from a preeminentand#160;cultural thinker puts old questions to rest andand#160;raises some surprising new ones.

Synopsis:

Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anneand#8217;s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anneand#8217;s death more than her life. How could Henry order the execution of a once beloved wife? Drawing on scholarship and critical analysis, Bordo probes the complexities of one of historyand#8217;s most infamous relationships.

Bordo also shows how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto and#8220;mean girl,and#8221; feminist icon, and everything in between. In this lively book, Bordo steps off the well-trodden paths of Tudoriana to expertly tease out the human being behind the competing mythologies.

Synopsis:

A Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year

 

When her carriage first crossed over from her native Austria into France, fourteen-year-old Marie Antoinette was taken out, stripped naked before an entourage, and dressed in French attire to please the court of her new king. For a short while, the young girl played the part.

 

But by the time she took the throne, everything had changed. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber tells of the radical restyling that transformed the young queen into an icon and shaped the future of the nation. With her riding gear, her white furs, her pouf hairstyles, and her intricate ballroom disguises, Marie Antoinette came to embody--gloriously and tragically--all the extravagance of the monarchy.

About the Author

Caroline Weber is associate professor of French at Barnard College, Columbia University. A specialist of eighteenth-century French literature, culture, and history, she has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Her other publications include Terror and Its Discontents, a well-received and widely taught book on the Reign of Terror; an edited volume of Yale French Studies; and numerous academic articles. She lives with her husband in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

krickcrak, November 13, 2006 (view all comments by krickcrak)
A great, gossipy biography of a subject who has been addressed over and over again. I couldn't help drawing parallels to Princess Di. Antoinette was a powerless person who made herself an icon but didn't see the shifts in popular opinion, or perhaps didn't care. Presents an interesting angle.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(6 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805079494
Author:
Weber, Caroline
Publisher:
Picador
Author:
Bordo, Susan
Subject:
Europe - France
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Royalty
Subject:
History
Subject:
Fashion
Subject:
France
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
France History Louis XVI, 1774-1793.
Subject:
Marie Antoinette - Clothing
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Subject:
Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
What Marie Antoinett
Publication Date:
20071002
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8-page insert
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1.26 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Europe » France » 18th Century and Revolutionary
History and Social Science » World History » France » General
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Beauty and Fashion » Fashion » History

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution Used Hardcover
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$18.50 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805079494 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "At Versailles, where even the daily rouging of the Dauphin's cheeks was a highly ritualized and politicized affair, and where obedience to protocol could brook no infringement, 14-year-old Marie Antoinette's refusal to wear her whalebone corset threatened the Bourbon-Hapsburg alliance. As this prodigiously researched, deliciously detailed study (perfectly timed for the fall release of Sofia Coppola's movie) of the doomed royal's fashion statements demonstrates, her masculine equestrian garb, ostentatious costumes for masked balls, high Parisian hairdos and faux country-girl gear were bold bids for political power and personal freedom in a suffocating realm where a queen was merely a breeder and living symbol of her spouse's glorious reign. An iconic trendsetter whose styles were copied by prostitutes and aristocrats alike, Marie Antoinette was blamed for France's moral decay and financial bankruptcy, the blurring of class lines and callousness toward the poor. When many of her aristocratic contemporaries donned tricolor ribbons and jewelry set with stones from the Bastille's demolished walls as pro-revolutionary emblems, a defiant Marie Antoinette reintroduced her most opulent jewels into her daily costume. The generously illustrated history by Weber (Terror and Its Discontents) posits that the queen's fashion obsession wasn't about narcissism and frivolity but self-assertion; even at the guillotine she controlled her image with a radiantly white ensemble." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , A ground-breaking retelling and reclaiming of Anne Boleynand#8217;s life and legacy from a preeminentand#160;cultural thinker puts old questions to rest andand#160;raises some surprising new ones.
"Synopsis" by ,
Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anneand#8217;s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anneand#8217;s death more than her life. How could Henry order the execution of a once beloved wife? Drawing on scholarship and critical analysis, Bordo probes the complexities of one of historyand#8217;s most infamous relationships.

Bordo also shows how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto and#8220;mean girl,and#8221; feminist icon, and everything in between. In this lively book, Bordo steps off the well-trodden paths of Tudoriana to expertly tease out the human being behind the competing mythologies.

"Synopsis" by ,
A Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year

 

When her carriage first crossed over from her native Austria into France, fourteen-year-old Marie Antoinette was taken out, stripped naked before an entourage, and dressed in French attire to please the court of her new king. For a short while, the young girl played the part.

 

But by the time she took the throne, everything had changed. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber tells of the radical restyling that transformed the young queen into an icon and shaped the future of the nation. With her riding gear, her white furs, her pouf hairstyles, and her intricate ballroom disguises, Marie Antoinette came to embody--gloriously and tragically--all the extravagance of the monarchy.

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